Fiber Optic Expansions

Innovation Garden: Chemical Synthesis

Management Moves



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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 24, 2000. All rights reserved.

Sarnoff Spin-off: Princeton Lightwave


Hard on the heels of Orchid BioScience’s IPO, which

successfully braved a weak Nasdaq market, comes provocative news of

yet another Sarnoff spinoff that also has strong hopes for success.

This one, Princeton Lightwave Inc., sits squarely in the middle of

Sarnoff’s rich technology stockpile — optical communications.

Princeton Lightwave develops and makes high-powered optical components

that could help telecommunications carriers cut costs. From the second

largest global leading telecommunications equipment supplier, Nortel,

it has hired away a topnotch CEO, John Pittman. And its venture capitalist

investors have just put in $28 million in first-round financing. Incorporated

in late March, Princeton Lightwave is looking to expand beyond the

Sarnoff building and move to an office park at Exit 8A.

"I am very excited about joining Princeton Lightwave for many

reasons," says Pittman, who started at Princeton Lightwave on

Wednesday, May 17. He labels it "an outstanding organization with

world-class technology developed at one of the premier R&D laboratories

in optical communications."

Princeton Lightwave’s contributions to telecommunications’ cost-cutting

include high performance pump lasers and modules that can move light

signals more efficiently through fiber optic networks. Network carriers

that spent millions of dollars to lay a fibre optic line will use

this photonic technology to send more data at less cost.

"We are a components business," says Pittman, "and we

are aiming to sell to leading networking companies such as Cisco,

Nortel, and Lucent. Our plan is to build up the business and our customer

base. The whole market for fiber optics is doubling every year."

Consider that photonics is to electronics as light is to electric

current. To picture how this technology works, imagine a fiberoptics

line that carries bits of data on electrical light signals. Although

at the early stages of fiber optics technology, each fiber could carry

only one color, now one fiber can carry 160 colors, each color sending

a different kind of message. This greater capacity means lower cost

per kilometer.

Princeton Lightwave’s particular technology involves creating specific

colors and the actual amplification of the well-defined colors of

light. "Each one of these colors goes into a fiber, each one carrying

a different data packet. At the other end, the colors are separated

out and the data is retrieved," says Pittman.

These signals weaken or "run out of steam," so to speak, and

every 80 to 100 kilometers they need to have their power amplified.

This is where Princeton Lightwave comes in. "Before they did this

with standard electronics," says Pittman. "Now we can supply

the lasers that networking companies will use to amplify (boost) the

signal so it can travel longer distances."

John Connolly, vice president of engineering and one of the company’s

founders, points out that to get Pittman signed up as CEO is a tremendous

coup and a strong endorsement of Princeton Lightwave’s technology:

"John Pittman’s leadership, his deep industry knowledge, and his

stature within the optoelectronics community will help immeasurably

in allowing Princeton Lightwave to quickly become a technology leader

and major supplier of optical components to the telecommunications


"There is an excitement in the marketplace," says Connolly,

a Rutgers alumnus, Class of 1977, who has a master’s degree from Polytechnic

Institute of New York. He had also worked on another Sarnoff spinoff,

Secure Products, which is based in Summit and does anticounterfeiting

technology for government and commercial applications, but these laser

pumps are his special area. In fact, his name is on one-fourth of

the more two dozen patents that have been filed for Princeton Lightwave.

What made him go with Princeton Lightwave, he says, that it is the

right technology at the right time: "This is a tremendous opportunity

to take Sarnoff technology and move it into the commercial marketplace."

Another endorsement is the support received from venture capitalists.

Gary Shaffer, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures who focuses on communications

technologies, was very involved in an investment with a fiber-optic

component maker that went public last week and that is now getting

the credit for rekindling confidence in the IPO market. New Focus

Inc. made news with its Nasdaq IPO because it rose from $20 to $51

on Thursday, May 18, and held at $49 on May 19. In addition to San

Jose-based Morgenthaler Ventures (, venture

capitalists in the first round financing include Menlo Park-based

USVP (, and Venrock Associates (

The search firm Heidrick & Struggles placed Pittman as CEO. Kristen

Callahan of Princeton Entrepreneurial Resources furnished an interim

controller, Ron Gravino. John Cinque (sank-you) of Buchanan Ingersoll

is the firm’s business attorney. Besides Connolly, Sarnoff-based founders

also include Pamela York, Dimitri Garbuzov, Nancy Morris, Ray Menna,

and Joe Abeles. York was director of strategic initiatives at Sarnoff

and is now acting vice president of marketing and corporate strategy.

Pittman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, as one of four children; his

father was an aerospace engineer and his mother a teacher. A 1970

graduate of San Diego State, he did postgraduate work in material

sciences engineering, and then went to Officer Candidate School for

the U.S. Navy, stayed in the Reserves, and retired with the rank of


He and his wife have three grown sons, and they are

returning to live in the United States after 14 years in Canada and

the United Kingdom. His most recent job was in Devon, near Plymouth,

three hours by train southwest of London, but he had also worked for

Nortel in Ontario. "We quite enjoyed the UK and the work at Nortel

but this was a chance to broaden my horizons. I thought it was time

for a career change. I was already working in the dot-com world, and

I was very interested in working with a start-up company," says


His departure from Nortel (which trades as NT on the New York Stock

Exchange) has been termed "a blow" for that company, because

he was managing director of the $1 billion optoelectronics division.

This division had just announced a new fiber-optic components business

and had engineered plans for a $660 million investment in new optical

component plants.

"I saw a good connection between Sarnoff and their research in

photonics and the research we may decide to contract with them to

do," says Pittman. "We are looking to recruit and hire locally

as much as possible to grow the business."

Sarnoff has been in the optoelectronics field for 30 years and was

one of the pioneers of diode laser technology in the ’60s and ’70s.

"A lot of the processes the industry uses today were developed

at Sarnoff," says Connolly, noting that Sarnoff’s expertise in

a number of related areas can be turned into solutions for Princeton


Central New Jersey is indeed one of the international centers of the

optoelectronic component industry, says James Sturm, director of the

Princeton University Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials,

a collaboration between the state and the university that helps develop

the local infrastructure.

Many of these companies, Sturm says, trace their roots back not only

to RCA Labs, the forerunner of Sarnoff, but also to Bell Laboratories,

both in Holmdel and Murray Hill. He cites such rapidly growing companies

as Epitaxx, Sensors Unlimited, Princeton Optics, and PD/LD. "Corning

just invested invested in a fiberoptics lab in Somerset, Emcore is

in Somerset, and Anadigics is a very big company in Warren."

"Princeton Lightwave is in a very hot market," says Gregory

Olson, president Sensors Unlimited. Olson is a Sarnoff veteran who

also founded another optoelectronics company, Epitaxx (now owned by

JDS Uniphase on Graphics Drive in Trenton). Now Sensors Unlimited

leads the industry in monitoring the colors on the optical network

and — with 80 people at Princeton Service Center and $25 to $30

million in revenues — expects to more than double in this year.

"All optical companies are growing. John Connolly is one of the

most experienced guys in the industry, and those high power pump lasers

are a key component," says Olson. "If they can mass produce

them, they’ll do very well."

Auto travelers can be on the lookout for the harbingers of the fiberoptic

networks to come — small structures that are now under construction

in rural areas all over the country. It seems that Princeton Lightwave’s

signal-boosting pumps need to be physically located in a building.

In cities, they can be in existing buildings, but in the country,

this hardware must be housed in "photonic pumphouses,"

if you will. Says Pittman: "They are being built as we speak."

— Barbara Fox

Princeton Lightwave Inc., 204 Fisher Place, Sarnoff

Corporation, CN 5300, Princeton 08540. John D. Pittman, CEO. 609-734-2294.

Home page:

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Fiber Optic Expansions

ADC Telecommunications Inc. (ADCT), 250 Phillips

Boulevard, Suite 255, Ewing 55440-1101. Barry Zhang, director, optical

components development. 609-771-4370; fax, 609-771-9790. Joe Latore,

manufacturing manager. 609-671-2714; fax, 609-771-4371. Home page:

The fiber optics component firm moved to Phillips Boulevard and has

separate divisions for research and manufacturing. Formerly known

as Princeton Optics, it is a wholly owned division of ADC Telecommunications,

based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Barry Zhang, director of optical components development, has a master’s

degree in physics from Tsinghua University in Beijing and a PhD from

Princeton in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

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Innovation Garden: Chemical Synthesis

Synthon could be a poster child for New Jersey’s attempts to position

itself as the Innovation Garden State. Founded by Rawle Hollingsorth,

a professor at Michigan State University, the company relocated last

winter from Michigan to New Jersey to get better access to its current

and potential clients.

Synthon is a fine chemicals and custom synthesis company that can

produce high purity chiral intermediates for the pharmaceutical and

biotechnology industries.

The chirality of a molecule is important to drug development. Molecules

used to develop therapeutic drugs typically form in non-chiral, mirror

images of themselves. Each mirror image can react very differently

in the body. For example, one molecule may show a desired therapeutic

effect, but its mirror image may cause significant, undesirable side


Because the FDA requires that the efficacy and safety of each mirror

image must be proved before a drug can be marketed, drug development

companies must go through the costly process of developing batches

of chiral molecules. Synthon has technologies to simplify the process

and decrease the cost. It has shown it can do this in drugs for cholesterol

reduction, central nervous system disorders (anti-depressants), antibiotics,

muscle relaxants, and anti-virals.

It’s a big market. An estimated 60 to 70 percent of all drugs over

the next five years will be chiral, and the chiral chemicals market

for pharmaceuticals is expected to exceed $5 billion by 2003.

Synthon Corp., 7 Deer Park Drive, Monmouth Junction

08852. Scott E. Coleridge, president & CEO. 732-274-0037; fax, 732-274-0501.

Home page:

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Management Moves

Right Management Consultants, 2 Research Way, Princeton

08540. Lee Bellarmino, managing director, Princeton. 609-987-0730;

fax, 609-987-0583. Home page:

Lee Bellarmino, formerly executive vice president and CEO of Peoples

Bancorp in Lawrenceville, has replaced Daniel Kowalski as managing


Bellarmino is a graduate of Rutgers and Stonier Graduate School of

Banking and started his career at CoreStates. He is also a certified

hospice worker, treasurer of the United Way of Ocean County, and a

trustee of the Trenton Roebling Community Development Corporation.

Right Management does outplacement, career management, and human resource

development, and comprehensive human resources management.

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Prosperity New Jersey (), 135 West Hanover Street,

CN 828, Trenton 08625-0828. Stephen Sasala, executive director. 609-984-4924;

fax, 609-984-4920. Home page:

In a story in the May 17 issue of U.S. 1, Prosperity New Jersey’s

public image campaign was incorrectly titled Innovation State. The

correct title is Innovation Garden State.

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Sandra M. Williams , 52, on May 8. She had a private family

therapy practice.

Janice A. Henry , 50, on May 10. She worked at Princeton


Emanuel R. Occhipinti , 60, on May 13. He was an orthodontist

with offices at Princeton Meadows and on Klockner Road.

Edgar "Norman" Udy , 69, on May 13. He was an administrator

in the Hopewell Valley school district and at the Pennington School.

Richard J. Klensch, 70, on May 13. He was an electronic

research engineer for David Sarnoff Research Center.

Richard H. Kurst , 53, on May 15. He was a machinist for

GMH Associates on Chelten Way in Trenton.

Thomas J. McGann , 76, on May 16. An attorney, he had law

offices in Ewing.

John J. Cech Jr. , 56, on May 17. He retired from BASF

Co. in Jamesburg.

Ruth Holly Butryn , 61, on May 21. She worked for Sage

Data, Clancy Paul, and the Academy of Professional Development.

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